If Academy Award winning actress Mira Sorvino makes a movie in the woods, does it make a sound? Yes, but not for about twenty minutes. The first 18 minutes of this slow and underwhelming ghost story is completely dialogue free. Honestly the entire movie could have been without dialogue as anything these characters have to say is completely monotonous and useless to the film’s endgame. I’m not totally unsure that The Presence isn’t a simple camera test (and it works ya!), or at least an excuse for a free lakeside vacation for Mira Sorvino (everyone else had to work while they were there).
Sorvino’s character, The Woman (they spent as much time on names as I did enjoying this movie), comes to her family’s empty lakeside cabin in order to write in peace and quiet. She walks around doing absolutely nothing until her boyfriend, The Man played by Weeds‘ Justin Kirk, shows up and surprises her. She’s momentarily happy with his presence (not the presence of the title, hang on, we’re getting there), but soon finds herself regretting his arrival, mainly because he’s never been out of his own house before (he can’t even start a fire or make coffee on his own, let alone go to the bathroom in the creepy outhouse). Oh and there’s a ghost in the cabin played by A Walk to Remember‘s Shane West. He also does absolutely nothing but appear around the house and stand as still as possible. Sometimes he listens to an old record player. Super creepy right? (*sarcasm alert*) That’s about the gist of the first thirty to forty minutes of the film.
But wait, it gets better (*sarcasm alert again*). There’s also an evil presence in the cabin. Oh yes, and The Woman and The Man are in trouble now as the bad ghost has set his sights on breaking them up! He uses some Amityville Horror whispering tricks to make The Woman very angry at The Man driving her to say such hurtful things as “I never wanted you to come out here in the first place”. Such madness! This goes on for awhile with revelations that come out of left field and wind up not playing into the plot in any major way. Finally we end with an unexplained and confusing conclusion that sees everyone on their way (including the audience members that made it this far).
This movie isn’t really horror or thriller. There are no scary moments (actually Sorvino may or may not have been trapped in the outhouse crapper for awhile). The Presence could easily make both the Lifetime and Hallmark channels’ lineups. Pass on this, if you made it through this review you’ve pretty much seen the movie (or at least can talk intelligently about it, not that anybody would want to).
Director: Tom Provost
Stars: Mira Sorvino, Shane West, Justin Kirk